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Student sues law school, ex-professor,
claiming brutal sexual harassment

By HARVEY RICE
The Houston Chronicle
May 6, 2004

A federal lawsuit accuses a former law school professor, known for his public commentary on legal issues, of forcing a former student to have sex, sodomizing her and threatening to share her sexually with other faculty members.

The accusations led the faculty of the South Texas College of Law to vote last year to recommend that the board of directors strip Neil McCabe, 56, of his tenure, college President and Dean James Alfini said.

"After an extensive investigation, the board acted on tenure and dismissal at the end of April 2003," Alfini said this week.

The lawsuit by student Kimmy Fox Fredericks, 31, says college officials "were aware of McCabe's nature as a sexual predator of his female students."

Alfini said the school took prompt action when Fredericks complained. "Romantic relations between faculty and students are absolutely forbidden," he said.

The lawsuit, filed April 23, claims discrimination and harassment under Title IX of the 1972 federal Education Amendment and seeks an unspecified amount in damages from the college and McCabe.

McCabe filed a defamation of character lawsuit Jan. 15 in state civil court accusing Fredericks of stalking him after he broke off their sexual relationship.

McCabe and his wife, Kay Peterson, who is representing him in the defamation case, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Peterson wrote a letter dated Jan. 20 to Bert Steinmann, the attorney representing Fredericks in the defamation lawsuit, threatening to move forward with the defamation lawsuit unless Fredericks rescinded her threat to sue.

"If she thought we were bluffing, we assume she has been disabused of that notion," the letter says. "If she does not want to expose herself, her family and friends to discovery, she must do as requested."

Steinmann said, "I don't believe it is the normal course of business to file a lawsuit to make someone not file a lawsuit."

Fredericks' lawsuit alleges that McCabe was her instructor in criminal law after she became a full-time student at South Texas College of Law in 1999.

McCabe, who began teaching at the law school in 1983, is a well-known legal authority often quoted by the Houston Chronicle and local radio and television outlets on legal issues. He is the author of at least two books on legal issues and numerous articles in law reviews.

The lawsuit accuses McCabe of taking advantage of Fredericks when she was emotionally vulnerable and "began a campaign of control and manipulation of Fredericks under the guise of helping her with her personal and family problems."

She had filed for divorce and was about to become an unemployed mother with two minor children, the lawsuit alleges, and "the health of her mother and father had deteriorated to the point they would need emotional support from their daughter, which would draw her away from her studies."

McCabe became her mentor, arranged special testing for her, ran interference with other professors and secured a part-time job for her at a law firm where another professor worked, the lawsuit alleges.

Syd Phillips, who represents Fredericks in the federal lawsuit, said, "She never interviewed for that job. It was just given."

The lawsuit accuses McCabe of "sexually pressuring her" after ensuring that she was dependent. When she resisted, he threatened the lives of her friends and family members, the lawsuit said.

Finally he forced her to have sex, often in his office, and "he brutally and forcibly sodomized her when she was `bad,' " according to the lawsuit.

McCabe "forcibly subjected Fredericks to the most vile and dehumanizing sexual conduct imaginable," the lawsuit says.

At one point he "suggested that at sometime in the future he would force Fredericks to have sex with other professors and officials at the college," the lawsuit says.

Phillips said a person whom he declined to name informed the dean of student affairs about the accusations, but the dean took no action.

Alfini said, "I assume everyone here has been very open and honest with me, and everyone denies knowledge along those lines."

Phillips said Fredericks broke off the relationship in December 2002 after McCabe "came to her apartment and forced himself on her and it was pretty bad."